Google News has announced a loyalty program, offering users badges for using Google News as their the portal for primary news. Starting Friday, but only on the United States version of Google News, Google began letting you earn badges as you read articles within certain topics.
First you'll earn a badge for the topic. Then you'll start earning stars that indicate how much you read within that topic. The stars range from lowest-to-highest: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and what Google calls Ultimate, indicated in blue.
At rollout, Google said they have more than 500 different categories of badges and offered the following five as a preview to wet your whistle:
By default, your badges are private, however you can choose to share them publicly. Ideally, Google wants you to share your badges and information about all the topics you read. More importantly, Google wants users to start sharing their web history.
Regardless of how much news you read via Google News, you can't acquire badges unless you have your web history enabled.
It's All About the Information
This is web history repeating itself. When rolling out Me On the Web, Google said you couldn't use the service unless you had a public profile. An option that was speculated to be positioning to get more public profiles and increased +1 awareness.
A few weeks later, Google released Google+, their social project. Yet again, Google is trying to build social usage with more items to share.
By requiring people to turn on web history, Google will be able to collect information about users' interests. Initially, this will most certainly feed +Sparks in Google+. For future use, it most certainly will include information to be fed into advertising.
Do you use Google News now? Will badges for reading news be enough to entice you to share Web history? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.